Not many people this side of the pond have heard of Tony Meeuwissen, which is a pity. One of those artists who never had formal training, his natural skills and abilities have served him well.
Instead of art school he served a five-year apprenticeship with a Rank Screen Services in London making commercials, then worked for various advertising agencies and design groups as a designer and art director before beginning his freelancing career.
He has done various projects, from a Rolling Stones album cover, books (including his own), stamps, and the awesome The Key to the Kingdom transformation cards. His covers for Penguin books are phenomenal, and one needs to remember that these were all done before the advent of computer illustration.
His work has been shown in galleries, and the Victoria and Albert Museum has purchased his works for its Department of Prints and Drawings. One of his many awards is the Victoria and Albert Museum's illustration award.
He has also won two gold and two silver awards from The Designers and Art Directors Association (D&AD). His Royal Mail stamps were voted the most popular British stamps. In 1984 he won the Italian Francobollo d'Oro award for the world's most beautiful stamp.
But I think his most spectacular work are his playing cards. Published by Pavilion Books in September 1992, the deck came with a book of corresponding verses. There was a treasure hunt in this, and the winner won a golden key and $10,000. The object of the hunt was to take an 18-line verse and decode it to select 14 cards. Once the cards were selected and a familiar phrase found, the winner had to construct a verse applicable to the clues, including the names hearts, diamonds, club, and spades. However, to my mind, the real treasure is the deck itself!
This deck is still available for sale, can be found on Amazon.
Images copyright of the artist, used here for illustration purposes.